Why American Jews Should Vote for McCain

By Ragen, Naomi | Moment, September-October 2008 | Go to article overview

Why American Jews Should Vote for McCain


Ragen, Naomi, Moment


One of the main responses you get when you send out emails from Israel concerning any U.S. presidential campaign is: mind your own business. I am always happy to tell people who give me this helpful advice that I am in the unique position of being an Israeli and an American, and therefore the election of the next President of the United States--and leader of the free world--is my business. And no, thanks for asking, I don't see any conflict of interest. In fact, woe to such a time when the best person to defend the greatest democracy on earth is not the best person for Israel and the Jews.

There are two people in line to lead the free world. One would be a gift, the other a surprise package of unknown contents who might very well explode in our faces.

John Sidney McCain III is a person who has given endlessly and unselfishly to his country, a person of unquestionable good character who understands the Middle East situation as only a military man who has suffered brutal torture can. McCain, the son and grandson of two four-star Navy admirals, spent five and a half years in a Vietnamese prison. When his father, who was supreme commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific during that war, tried to free him, he refused to go because other POWs were ahead of him in line. The Vietnamese beat him repeatedly and knocked out some of his teeth. He still refused to go. He received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross. You may not know that he has a son serving in Iraq, and a daughter he and his wife Cindy, a tireless activist for sick and at-risk children all over the world, adopted from Bangladesh. He has served in Congress since 1982. His voting record is not that of any cookie cutter party hack. He is a man of principle, often at odds with his party machinery.

As for the strategic importance of winning the war in Iraq for the U.S. and for Israel, McCain gets it. As he said in an April 11, 2007 speech to the Virginia Military Institute: "We are engaged in a basic struggle: a struggle between humanity and inhumanity; between builders and destroyers. If fighting these people and preventing the export of their brand of radicalism and terror is not intrinsic to the national security and most cherished values of the United States, I don't know what is. Consider our other strategic challenges in the region: preventing Iran from going nuclear; stabilizing Afghanistan against a resurgent Taliban; the battle for the future of Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others; protecting Israel's security; the struggle for Lebanon's independence. …

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